I was impressed with both the gorgeous color photographs and the written content in this companion book to the first two seasons of "Downton Abbey." T...moreI was impressed with both the gorgeous color photographs and the written content in this companion book to the first two seasons of "Downton Abbey." The plot is not revealed, except in very general terms, so the book is not a spoiler for the reader who has not seen all the episodes. It gives insight into the lives of both the wealthy Crawleys and their servants in Yorkshire in 1912. The oldest daughters were presented to Society in the hopes of making a good match in the first few episodes. There were big changes as woman wanted the vote, automobiles replaced horses, and Downton Abbey got electricity and telephones. When World War I started, many of the men at Downton Abbey went to war, and part of the mansion was devoted to the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers.
The book takes the reader behind the scenes as it discusses everything from period costumes and hairstyles to filming the scenes in the trenches in an Ipswich location which was specially built for World War recreations. Photographs and stories of famous people of the era are included in the historical section since they served as inspiration for characters in the television series. The crew tries to keep everything authentic to the period in history. This book was a wonderful, informative look behind the scenes at "Downton Abbey."(less)
Isabel Wilkerson wrote a compelling story of the Great Migration of the black people from the South to the cities of the North and West from 1915 to 1...moreIsabel Wilkerson wrote a compelling story of the Great Migration of the black people from the South to the cities of the North and West from 1915 to 1970. She interviewed over a thousand people, zooming in on three individuals whose experiences represent the discrimination, problems, hopes, and dreams of over six million migrants. She added historical facts about the horrific Jim Crow laws, educational inequality, the difficulty of migration, labor needs during the world wars, housing shortages, and other problems. Although the black citizens that left the South do not consider themselves immigrants since they were staying in their own country, they exhibited similiar behavior as the European immigrants that came to American shores during the same period. Other than occasional instances of repetition, this narrative non-fiction book was interesting and informative.(less)
This is a very readable book about important women in American history. The book is arranged in periods of time that may have a common theme, such as...moreThis is a very readable book about important women in American history. The book is arranged in periods of time that may have a common theme, such as "the push for equal rights 1950-80". The book has large blocked off areas that have information about a single important event or woman. It also includes black and white photos. I used it as one resource for a non-credit "fun class" on heroic women at a local college. The book had valuable information about the changing roles of women in America, and how much we owe to those who fought for womens rights and civil rights. (less)
Sam Kean has written a witty, interesting book about the elements in the Periodic Table. He writes as if he was chatting with the reader in a coffee s...moreSam Kean has written a witty, interesting book about the elements in the Periodic Table. He writes as if he was chatting with the reader in a coffee shop or a tavern, regaling his friends with one anecdote after another. He's imparting his knowledge of science by the use of quirky, fun facts and interesting stories about the scientists involved.
This is not set up like a typical chemistry textbook. The chapters are divided into areas of interest such as astronomy, poisons, money, war, medicine, and periods of history. The author is a physicist so the book had a lot of information about elements made in the lab, radioactive elements, nuclear chemistry, and the atomic bomb. For me, that was the most challenging part of the book.
He writes about Linus Pauling's theory of a triple helix being trumped by James Watson and Francis Crick's double helix model of DNA. The attractive Marie Curie was a source of gossip when she took men into dark closets to show them radioactive specimens. Ghandhi told the people of India to dry their own salt instead of paying a British salt tax, only to have many people develop goiter due to lack of iodine. The trail taken by Lewis and Clark is known because anthropologists found (poisonous) mercury capsules that the explorers were using as laxatives. These types of stories make science seem more approachable.
The title of the book comes from a practical joke. Gallium, which resembles aluminum, is a solid below 84 degrees F, and can be molded into a spoon. When it is dipped into hot tea, the surprised guest finds the spoon disappearing as it melts away. (Youtube has some "disappearing spoon" videos.)
This is a book that can be enjoyed by the lay person as well as a scientist. Some chapters will be much easier to understand if a reader has had an introduction to the Periodic Table, such as in a high school Chemistry course. I would have preferred having the footnotes on the bottom of the pages rather than in the back of the book. Overall, the author should be commended for making science fun.(less)
Eleanor Rosevelt condensed three volumns of earlier autobiographies, then added information to bring it up to 1960 and produce this book. She was a sh...moreEleanor Rosevelt condensed three volumns of earlier autobiographies, then added information to bring it up to 1960 and produce this book. She was a shy, intelligent child who later married Franklin D. Roosevelt who became President in 1932. She was a very active First Lady who volunteered for many organizations and wrote a newspaper column, while she also raised a family and entertained dignitaries. She later became a UN delegate and an activist in the Democratic party. Mrs Roosevelt had a fascinating life in which she worked into her mid 70s promoting human rights, freedom, and understanding between nations.
The author gave a lot of detail describing her public life, while being careful about divulging information concerning her adult private life. It is understandable why she would not want to expose her husband and children to additional scrutiny by the media.
I found the Presidential years the most difficult to read about since she was trying to tell about so many people without going into great detail about many events, and it left me wanting to know more. In the beginning and end of the book, she was able to expand more about her feelings and her work. 3 1/2 to 4 stars.(less)
A diphtheria epidemic was starting in Nome, Alaska in 1925 and antitoxin was desperately needed. Nome, located close to the Arctic Circle, was no long...moreA diphtheria epidemic was starting in Nome, Alaska in 1925 and antitoxin was desperately needed. Nome, located close to the Arctic Circle, was no longer accessible by boat since the Bering Sea was already frozen. Some serum was transported from Anchorage to Nenana by train. Then a relay of twenty dog sled teams ran day and night for 674 miles to bring the lifesaving serum to Nome. The heroic men and their dogs traveled through blizzards and exceptionally frigid conditions--down to minus 60 degrees.
The authors provided lots of interesting background material about diphtheria, Nome, the Gold Rush, and the Native Alaskans. They also discussed the dog sled teams, especially the lead dogs, and the responsibilities of the drivers. The second half of the book was especially exciting as the teams made the harrowing journey. Exceptionally intelligent lead dogs, such as Togo from Leonhard Seppala's team, pulled them out of potentially deadly situations. The two authors, cousins Gal Salisbury and Laney Salisbury, wrote a book that is both informative and full of human (and canine) drama.(less)
The journalist/author was a lieutenant in Vietnam during the war. He has written a book suitable for middle schoolers and older. The useful maps, wond...moreThe journalist/author was a lieutenant in Vietnam during the war. He has written a book suitable for middle schoolers and older. The useful maps, wonderful photographs, and the "quick facts" portions of the narrative help make it a very interesting book.(less)
The revised edition (2010) of "Korean War" goes into quite a bit of detail about military strategy, although political considerations are also address...moreThe revised edition (2010) of "Korean War" goes into quite a bit of detail about military strategy, although political considerations are also addressed. Part of the "America at War" series, it would be most suitable for high school students or older.(less)
This was a book about one of the most important events in the Cold War, written for older children and young adults. Soviet missiles were discovered i...moreThis was a book about one of the most important events in the Cold War, written for older children and young adults. Soviet missiles were discovered in Cuba during the Kennedy administration in October 1962. A naval blockade was set up around Cuba while negotiations were going on with the Soviets. The author discusses that neither Kennedy or Khrushchev wanted their actions to be responsible for setting off World War III, which could have turned into nuclear destruction of the world.(less)
This book gives an overview of American history from the end of World War II, on to the Korean War, the Cuban Missle Crisis, and ends with the assassi...moreThis book gives an overview of American history from the end of World War II, on to the Korean War, the Cuban Missle Crisis, and ends with the assassination of President Kennedy. This was a time when the Soviets and the USA were engaged in a Cold War. In addition to the military and political history, it also tells about the social changes that were taking place. Highways were improved, people moved to suburbia, consumerism increased, the civil rights movement gained strength, and the space program began. In the arts, it was the time of abstract expressionism, rebellious writers of the "Beat Generation," the music of Elvis and other rock-and-rollers, and the movies of James Dean and other defiant heroes.
This young adult book did a good job of covering the historical period. Good maps of Europe and Asia would have been helpful for students since the text covered the divisions at Yalta, the Berlin Wall, the Korean War, and the unrest in Vietnam.(less)
This is a good short overview of Winston Churchill's life, written on a young adult level. I liked it that the author put in a chapter about his early...moreThis is a good short overview of Winston Churchill's life, written on a young adult level. I liked it that the author put in a chapter about his early schooling, his collection of 1500 toy soldiers that he used for mock historical battles, and his love of horses since the younger students would probably relate to these stories of Churchill's boyhood. It contains pictures of Churchill at various times in his life, Chartwell, and some other prominent people. The maps of the countries in Europe involved in World War I and World War II are also helpful, especially since some of the countries have different names or borders. The maps also help one realize what an overwhelming task that a small country like Great Britain faced in World War II. Some of Churchill's famous quotes are included in the text, and the reader can just picture him addressing Great Britain during the war. The book ends with a timeline of Churchill's life, and it's just amazing that one man could have done so much.(less)
Theodore Roosevelt needed to lift his spirits after his defeat in the 1912 presidential election in a third-party run. He had been invited for a lectu...moreTheodore Roosevelt needed to lift his spirits after his defeat in the 1912 presidential election in a third-party run. He had been invited for a lecture tour in South America, and added the challenge of a trip to the Amazon region. When he reached Brazil, he changed his plans from exploring a known river to embarking on a journey along the uncharted River of Doubt. Theodore Roosevelt was accompanied by his son Kermit Roosevelt, the Brazilian explorer Colonel Candido Rondon, a naturalist, a doctor, and the camaradas who toiled as paddlers and porters. Rondon acted as the commander, and mapped the river.
The expedition was poorly supplied with boats that were too heavy for paddling through the rapids. The River of Doubt was dangerous with poisonous snakes, piranhas, impassable rapids and waterfalls, the possibility of attack by Indians, and constant swarms of insects. The men were starving when they ran low on provisions, and were fighting malaria and other infections. Although there were many people on this journey to admire, it is questionable if they would have survived without the leadership of Colonel Rondon.
The book is an adventure story as well as a historical account of part of Roosevelt's life. The author, a former writer and editor for National Geographic, impressed me with her nature writing as well. She adds interesting information about everything from the science of tectonic plates forming the Andes to how the plants and animals of the Amazon evolved to ensure survival. I enjoyed this Brazilian adventure through the uncharted territory on the River of Doubt.(less)
Eichmann and the Holocaust is a book based on excerpts from a five-part article Hannah Arendt wrote for "The New Yorker" in 1963. She reported on the...moreEichmann and the Holocaust is a book based on excerpts from a five-part article Hannah Arendt wrote for "The New Yorker" in 1963. She reported on the trial of the German Nazi, Adolf Eichmann, in Israel. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes, leading to his execution in 1962.
Eichmann was one of the chief organizers of the Holocaust. He was involved first with the forced emigration or expulsion of the Jews from Austria. Later, he organized the deportation of the Jews to Poland where they were shot, or sent to concentration camps to await the gas chambers in Poland and Hungary. His reason for doing this seemed to be a desire to raise in rank in the Nazi organization, a career move as a transportation administrator of extermination. He said he was following orders.
Eichmann lived in Argentina under a false identity after World War II. He was eventually captured by Israeli agents in 1960, and tried in Jerusalem. There were questions about the legality of his capture by kidnapping, and about his trial which was not in an international court.
The material presented in this book about the trial was good, and thought-provoking. But more background information was really needed, especially about his time in Argentina, and a few pages of biographical information on Eichmann would have made it a better book. I found myself getting more details from the Internet. Perhaps that information was in the author's longer book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.(less)
Louis Zamperini was a World War II bombardier in a plane over the Pacific when it crashed into the ocean. He and two other airmen fought to stay alive...moreLouis Zamperini was a World War II bombardier in a plane over the Pacific when it crashed into the ocean. He and two other airmen fought to stay alive in a poorly stocked life raft. As sharks circled their raft, they had to improvise to try to catch a few birds and fish to stay alive. Louis' resilience, learned as an Olympic runner, served him well, and he and his pilot friend Allen Phillips survived. But the Japanese caught them and they were imprisoned under inhumane conditions with sadistic guards and very little food. Louis' childhood experiences as a delinquent came in handy while he was a POW, since he was already experienced at stealing food.
This book tells an amazing story of the bravery of the prisoners in the Japanese POW camps. It also shows how little was done to help them deal with post-traumatic stress after their ordeal was over. Louis was drowning in alcohol before he turned to God to help him forgive the brutal guards and move ahead in his life. The book also celebrates the love of the families back home who never stopped believing that their loved ones would be found. Laura Hillenbrand has written an engaging, well researched biography. (less)
When William Dodd was appointed ambassador to Germany in 1933, he brought his wife and two adult children with him to Berlin. The book centers around...moreWhen William Dodd was appointed ambassador to Germany in 1933, he brought his wife and two adult children with him to Berlin. The book centers around Dodd, a history professor, and his daughter, Martha. Martha is naive, and uses very poor judgment as she parties and has sexual liasons with various Nazis as well as a Communist Soviet diplomat. Dodd gets increasingly horrified as Hitler gets more violent, arms the country and trains soldiers. But the State Department seems more concerned with Germany repaying its debts than Nazi violence. It's both fascinating and terrifying to read in detail how Hitler gained total power over the country. Anyone who got in his way was eliminated, and the German people--especially the Jews--were left in a state of paranoia and terror. While painstakingly researched historically, Larson also includes interesting and colorful observations from Dodd's and Martha's personal diaries to make it a very readable book.(less)